Ah, summer. The season for mountains, beaches, and lakes. It’s also the season of sunburns and sweat. Despite its warm, carefree image in our minds, summer is full of weather extremes. From scorching heat to explosive thunderstorms, you need hiking clothes that can handle the elements.
A good pair of hot weather hiking pants will keep you cool, protect your skin from the sun, and won’t limit mobility. Below, I’ll review the 9 best hot weather hiking pants, from roll-ups and zip-offs to ultralight offerings.
My Review Process
After decades of hiking and mountaineering, I have developed a comprehensive knowledge of outdoor travel. I’m here to share that knowledge with you.
Hot weather hiking can be complicated. Between the powerful summer sun, heat, humidity, and thunderstorms, there are a lot of factors to deal with. Shorts may seem like a good idea until the back of your knees burn from long stretches in the sun. Thicker clothing may also seem good until you’re caked in sweat.
Boasting lightweight fabric, breathable designs, and stretchy material, good hiking pants can see you through summer's worst. Some varieties are full pants; others convert to shorts by rolling up or zipping off. If you hike, backpack, climb, or summit mountains during hot months, you’re going to want one of these versatile pants.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hiking Pants are the real deal. The fabric is light and breathable, and the stretchy material doesn't limit freedom of movement. The Ferrosi pants are fairly priced, have a UPF sun protection score of 50 (the top rating), and best of all, they’re comfortable.
While the Ferrosi pants are my pick for the best hiking pants for hot weather, they’re not insulated enough for cooler hikes. The water resistance is also below average, but they dry pretty quickly. It’s best to wear these with a belt as the waist tends to stretch. The pants feature a gusseted crotch and articulated knees, both of which help expand movement.
The Ferrosi pants don't have zip-off legs but do have an elastic cord that can keep them rolled up. Overall, the design is stellar, the fabric is breathable, and the ventilation is great. These versatile pants will keep you happy all summer long.
Arc’Teryx is one of my favorite outdoor brands, and the Gamma LT Quick Dry Pants are a fantastic piece of clothing. They especially shine in temperate, wet, and humid weather.
The material quality is excellent, as is the water resistance, courtesy of a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. The pants fit well, look good, and don’t inhibit mobility. If your outdoor activities include wet conditions, the Gamma Lt Quick Dry Pants are the ideal choice.
Typical of Arc’Teryx products, the biggest detractor is price. You get a fantastic pair of pants, but they’ll cost you. These pants also lack rear pockets and have limited function in hot, dry climates.
But for hiking pants that can handle hot and humid weather - and dry quickly - the Gamma LT's are winners.
The PrAna Halle II is the best hiking pant for women. As the name implies, the stretchy fabric doesn't inhibit mobility and creates a great fit. The pants are very comfortable and durable enough for single-day or multi-day adventures.
In extreme heat, the thickness of the fabric is noticeable. There are lighter pants for desert and tropical environments. The pockets are also frustratingly small.
Still, these are great and comfortable women's hiking pants. And as the name implies, they're lightweight and provide unrestricted movement on the trail.
It’s worth noting that PrAna also makes a men’s version of these pants called the Zion, which I’ll cover below.
These slim-fitting and functional pants are in the league of the Ferrosi in terms of breathability. The Mammut Runbold pants come with zippered pockets and are lightweight, breathable, quick-drying. They are great hot weather hiking pants.
There are two downsides to the Runbold. The first is weather resistance, which is below average. The second is the lack of roll-up snaps to hold the pant legs in place. You can roll them up and keep hiking, but the roll will come undone eventually.
A bit pricier than the Ferrosi pants, Mammut Runbolds are great breathable pants for the hot summer sun.
The Patagonia Quandary Pants are my choice for the best lightweight hiking pants for hot weather. This popular choice is meant for summer alpine hikes and performs admirably.
The Quandary is a lightweight pant with great mobility and versatility. These outdoor pants are also surprisingly weather resistant. Light, airy, and able to repel wind and rain, the Quandary is a perfect pant to handle thunderstorms in the mountains.
The biggest issue with the Quandary pants is their size, which runs slim and won’t fit larger hikers well. If you’re looking for breezy pants to accompany you on summit bids, this is the best choice.
The KUHL Renegade Cargo convertible is my pick for the best zip-off hiking pants. The fabric is tough and durable, and the Renegade has plenty of pockets. Additionally, the zip-off legs are easy to work with, making them the perfect choice for zip-off outdoor pants.
While the zip-off legs make life easy, these hot weather pants are on the heavier side. The fit is also baggy and the pants don't come with a belt.
If you’re looking for one pair of pants to do it all, the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible is the best of both worlds. Make sure to buy a belt, though.
Companion to the Halle, these hiking pants for hot weather are the comfiest on the list. The PrAna Stretch Zion II has a relaxed fit and a great leg roll-up feature. The pants don’t impact mobility when hiking or climbing and they’re outrageously comfortable.
Despite the comfort and stretchy mobility, there is one notable downside. The Prana Stretch Zion pants have below-average ventilation. This could be an issue in humid and hot conditions.
But if you want summer hiking pants that you can wear all day long, the Stretch Zion II fit the bill.
The North Face Paramount Trail Convertibles are ideal hot weather pants for casual, utility-focused hikers. They're cheaper and as quick-drying as my overall favorite, the Ferrosi. These zip-off pants have good weather resistance, are durable, and dry quickly when weather rolls through.
The pants are a bit heavier, and the fit is fairly baggy. But if you want the quick drying nature of the Ferrosi pants but in a zip-off, this is a great option.
The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants are my favorite budget hiking pants and one of the best convertibles out there. Convertible pants, also known as zip-offs, convert from pants to shorts mid-hike.
Like the Ferrosi, these pants are lightweight, boast great ventilation, and dry quickly if weather passes through. They also come with a belt. The biggest point in favor of these pants is their price, which beats all other entries on this list.
While the affordability is nice, the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants miss on freedom of movement. They’re a bit too stiff to be comfortable and offer minimal water resistance. Regardless, if you’re on a budget and chasing outdoor activities, these pants are a smart buy.
Summer Hiking Pants Buying Guide
When selecting your next (or first) pair of hiking pants, there are a few notable criteria to keep in mind.
Hiking pants can be made of nylon fabric, polyester, or nylon-cotton blends. If the pants have spandex (or something similar), it means they’ll be able to stretch. Dynamic movement is a key feature when you have a large pack on or when you’re scrambling.
It's also good to check for DWR (durable water repellent) finishing. No hiking pant is 100% waterproof, but a good water repellent finish can handle wet conditions, light rain, and even short bouts of heavy rain.
Unlike regular pants, great hot weather pants use breathable materials. There are several features that impact how breathable a pair of hiking pants are.
Zippers and openings offer quick ventilation when you need more airflow. In addition, zip-off and roll-up pants allow you to convert to hiking shorts, giving you a lot more air. Finally, be sure to check how thick the fabric is. Heavier fabrics are usually less breathable.
If you’re backpacking or going ultralight, a bit of weight in your pants can make a large difference. While none of the pants I reviewed are heavy, they’re not all ultralight, either. Be sure to consider the weight of outdoor pants when deciding on which pair to buy.
Pockets and Common Features
The pocket arrangement of hiking pants is important if you want critical gear within reach. Look for deep pockets, zippered thigh pockets, velcro closures, a leg pocket, or a zippered security pocket.
Fully zippered pockets to lock everything down. A large cargo pocket on the side or back may also seem handy, but can swing awkwardly against your leg if you stuff them with things.
The ideal hiking pant has functional pockets with at least one fully zippered option and ventilation zippers.
Some pants come with an integrated belt, waistband adjuster, or a belt loop. If the hiking pants don't come with a waist adjuster or integrated belt, buy one. Hiking with baggy pants that you have to adjust every few steps is a frustrating and preventable exercise.
Convertibles and Roll-ups
Hiking pants are called pants because they reach down to your shoes. Convertible hiking pants and roll-ups extend their functionality.
Convertibles (a.k.a zip-offs) usually have a zippered middle section that, when unzipped, creates shorts. Roll-ups are what they sound like. When it gets too hot, you can roll up the fabric, and snaps or ties hold it in place.
Watch out for difficult zip-offs or roll-up pants that don’t have anything to hold up the rolled pant leg.
The cost of hiking pants ranges from roughly $60 to around $200. In this wide range, you have budget options, luxury options, and high-performance models.
The most expensive option can be worth the price if they have fantastic weather resistance like the Arc’Teryx Gamma Lt. However, budget options also have admirable features as long as you're okay sacrificing other qualities like weatherproofing.
Take time to assess what features you value most (mobility, breathability, zip-offs, durability, etc.) when considering your budget.
The best overall hiking pants for hot weather are the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants. If you’re on a budget, the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants are a solid buy. For the lightest hiking pants, grab a pair of Patagonia Quandary Pants.
When wet weather is the biggest concern, the Arc’Teryx Gamma LT Quick Dry Pants are the best bet. If you want something that's comfortable above all else, the PrAna Zion II and Halle II are the pants to buy.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.